Overview Official Name: Bahá'í International Community World Headquarters: Seat of the Universal House of Justice on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel (http://www.bahai.us) U.S. Headquarters: Bahá'í House of Worship, 100 Linden Ave., Wilmette, IL 60091
According to the official Bahá'í Web site: “The Bahá'í Faith is the youngest of the world's independent religions. Its founder, Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892), is regarded by Bahá'ís as the most recent in the line of Messengers of God that stretches back beyond recorded time and that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad.
The central theme of Bahá'u'lláh's message is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society. God, Bahá'u'lláh said, has set in motion historical forces that are breaking down traditional barriers of race, class, creed, and nation and that will, in time, give birth to a universal civilization.
The principal challenge facing the peoples of the earth is to accept the fact of their oneness and to assist the processes of unification.” ("The Bahá'í Faith," www.bahai.org/article-1-2-0-1.html [cited 21 March 2001]).
Adherents: Worldwide: 5 million in 235 countries; 10,000 local spiritual assemblies. U.S.A.:593,075 in 1100 local spiritual assemblies Bahia's Top 5 India 1,823,631 USA 593,075 Iran 409,869 Vietnam 376,328 Kenya 368,093
Founders: MirzaSiyyid Ali Muhammad, the "Báb" (1819-1850) MirzaHusayn-Ali, "Bahá'u'lláh" (1817-1892) Current Leaders: The surviving "Hands of the Cause of God" and nine members of the Universal House of Justice
Beliefs 1. Authority: The "Holy," the "Hands," and the "House” Christian Response: The Bible is God's unique Word and the only true source of divinely inspired Scripture. No human source or other writing is equal to, or can supersede, its authority. It is the basis alone for Christian doctrine and practice. Jesus Christ Himself affirmed the authority of the Bible in the lives of all people (see Matt. 5:17-19; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 2 Pet. 1:19-21).
Christian Response: The Bible teaches that there is indeed only one God (Deut. 6:4) and that He is the Creator of all that exists. However, the Bible warns that all other gods are false and those who worship them are guilty of idolatry (Ex. 20:3-4; Isa. 44:6-8). The New Testament teaches that God exists eternally in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 8:6; 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 1 Pet. 1:2). The Bible also teaches that people can know God through a personal relationship with His Son Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1-2), and not just have information about Him.
3. Jesus: One of the "Manifestations" of God Christian Response: Jesus Christ is the "one and Only Begotten Son of God" (John 3:16). He is the unique incarnation (embodiment) of God who perfectly reveals God's nature and character to mankind (Heb. 1:1-2). He was, is, and always shall be the Second Person of the eternal Holy Trinity.
He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was crucified as an atonement for sin, and rose physically from the dead. He now reigns with the Father in heaven and someday will return to close the age and judge all people. There is no other one in all of history like Him (John 1:1-14; 5:17-18; 8:56-59; 10:30-33; 14:6; Col. 1:15-20; 2:9). Granted, many of the other Bahá'í "Manifestations" taught high moral standards and encouraged peace and social justice. None, however, demonstrated the level of divine authority as did Jesus who demonstrated His power by His resurrection from the dead (1 Cor. 15:1-11).
4. Salvation and Life after Death Christian Response: The Bible teaches that salvation is a free gift to those who acknowledge their sinfulness (Rom. 3:23; 6:23), repent of their sin (Acts 26:20), and receive Jesus Christ, by faith, as their personal Lord and Savior (John 1:12; Rom. 10:9-13). Only His death on the cross provides atonement for mankind's sin and His resurrection guarantees eternal life in heaven (Rom. 4:23-25; 1 Cor. 15:1-8; 1 Pet. 3:18). Those who reject that free gift will be lost forever in hell (Matt. 18:8-9; 25:41-46; Mark 9:43-48).
Basic Moral Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh The abandonment of all forms of prejudice Since we have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest (Source: Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, p. 20, www.bahai.org/article-1-3-2-14.html [cited 19 March 2001]).
Christian Response: Christians affirm the unity of humanity as all descendants of mutual parents, Adam and Eve (Gen. 1-2). Cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity is a part of God's plan as He has created all people in His image and placed them in the times and places He desires (Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1; Acts 17:24-28). Only in Christ, however, can mankind find a unity of purpose that transcends superficial human divisions (Gal. 3:28-29 ;Eph. 2:11-15).
2. Assurance to women of full equality of opportunity with men The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged prerequisites of peace. The denial of such equality perpetrates an injustice against one half of the world's population and promotes in men harmful attitudes and habits that are carried from the family to the workplace, to political life, and ultimately to international relations (Source: The Promise of World Peace, Universal House of Justice, 1985, www.bahai.org/article-1-7-0-6.html [cited 29 March 2001]).
Christian Response: Jesus Christ elevated the status of women more than any religion in history. Thus Christians strongly affirm the equality and rights of women before God as persons made in His image (Gen. 1:26-27). The Bible, however, celebrates the complementary roles within the family and church for men and women as they work together to build the kingdom of God (Eph. 5:21-33; Col. 3:18-21; Titus 2:3-5; 1 Pet. 3:1-7).
3. Recognition of the unity and relativity of religious truth These principles and laws, these firmly-established and mighty systems, have proceeded from one Source and are the rays of one Light. That they differ one from another is to be attributed to the varying requirements of the ages in which they were promulgated (Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 2nd rev. ed., 1976, pp. 287-288, www.bahai.org/article-1-4-0-4.html [cited 29 March 2001]).
Christian Response: The Bahá'í assertion that all religions teach the same essential truths ignores the major doctrinal and philosophical contradictions that characterize them. Most important, Bahá'í ignores the unique claims of Jesus Christ to be the one and only begotten Son of God and the unique incarnation of God (John 1:14,18; 3:16-18; Heb. 1:1-14; 1 John 4:9). Bahá'ís also ignore the important differences in how salvation is realized in Christianity as opposed to most other faiths. In most religions salvation is earned by adherence to various laws of behavior and human achievement. Christianity asserts that salvation is entirely by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as a result of His life, sacrificial atoning death, and resurrection (John 14:6; Eph. 2:8-9).
4. The elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease (Source: Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, p. 41,www.bahai.org/article-1-3-2-15.html [cited 29 March 2001]). And Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction and deprive them of the Tree of Wealth (Source: Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, p. 39, www.bahai.org/article-1-3-2-15.html [cited 29 March 2001]).
Christian Response: The Bible does not teach that accumulating wealth, in and of itself, is necessarily evil or sinful. Nonetheless, Scripture warns that "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: (1 Tim. 6:10, NIV) and that Christians are to be faithful stewards (managers) of the material resources God entrusts to us (Gen. 1:27-28; Matt. 25:14-30).
This principle of stewardship has applications for the totality of a person's economic and spiritual life: • It applies to the ways a Christian earns his living. Christians should work honestly in occupations that are ethical and build the kingdom of God (Eph. 6:7-8; Col. 3:17,23-24). • It applies to the ways Christians spend their income. God's people should think carefully about the purposes and value of the items they purchase. • It applies to how and why the Christian saves his resources. The believer should save and invest his money wisely (Matt. 6:19-21). • The Christian steward also should, with reasonable foresight, consider how his or her estate will be distributed upon death. Well-planned wills and trusts can provide adequately for future generations and benefit the spreading of the gospel for years to come. • The Christian, of course, is expected to give generously to his or her local church and support Christian ministries in proportion to his or her resources (Matt. 15:3- 6; 23:23-24; Mark 12:41-44; 2 Cor. 9:6-8).
5. The realization of universal education The cause of universal education, which has already enlisted in its service an army of dedicated people from every faith and nation, deserves the utmost support that the governments of the world can lend it. For ignorance is indisputably the principal reason for the decline and fall of peoples and the perpetuation of prejudice. . . . In keeping with the requirements of the times, consideration should also be given to teaching the concept of world citizenship as part of the standard education of every child (Source: The Promise of World Peace, Universal House of Justice, Oct. 1985, www.bahai.org/article-1-3-2-16.html [cited 29 March 2001]).
Christian Response: Christians affirm the benefits of literacy and education and support the goal of universal education. However, the Bible does not teach that a lack of education is the basic problem of mankind. The Bible states that sin is the basic root of mankind's problems, including war and injustice. Sin is defined as rebellion or indifference to the will of God for each person (Rom. 3:23) which results in death (Rom. 6:23). The only solution for sin is the salvation granted by God by grace through faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ which results in good works (Eph. 2:8-10). Education that ignores this basic sin problem will not necessarily value righteousness, justice, or peace, but often results in oppressive indoctrination as illustrated historically by the highly educated societies in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
6. The responsibility of each person independently to search for truth Being one, truth cannot be divided, and the differences that appear to exist among the many nations only result from their attachment to prejudice. If only men would search out truth, they would find themselves united (Source: Àbdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 129, www.bahai.org/article-1-3-2-17.html [cited 29 March 2001]). And The fact that we imagine ourselves to be right and everybody else wrong is the greatest of all obstacles in the path towards unity, and unity is necessary if we would reach truth, for truth is one (Source: Àbdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 136, www.bahai.org/article-1-3-2-17.html [cited 29 March 2001]).
Christian Response: The Bahá'í statement that truth is one, but that it is wrong to question or criticize others' beliefs, is self-contradictory. The truth claims of various religious traditions are in many cases totally incompatible. Bahá'ís simply ignore the discrepancies, in order to synthesize them into a unitary system. This doctrinal compromise, however, actually elevates Bahá'ísm to the level of the superior faith and denigrates the unique beliefs of all other faiths. In any case, Jesus Christ, and the biblical writers, made exclusive truth claims about Him that Christians cannot com promise (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). The Bible warns in the Old and New Testaments against blending counterfeit faith with authentic faith. It also warns God's people to reject false gods, false prophets, and false worship (Gen. 4:3-4; Num. 33:52-56; Deut. 12:2-3; 18:9-22; 1 Kings 18:16-40; Jer. 14:14-16; Matt. 7:15-21; 24:4-5,23-26; Mark 13:5-23; Luke 17:23-27; Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Cor. 11:4-15; Gal. 1:6-7; 1 Tim. 1:3-4; 3:9; 2 Tim. 4:1-2; 1 John 2:18-23; 4:1-5; 2 John 7-11).
7. The establishment of a global commonwealth of nations Bahá'ís are convinced that a major priority for mankind is the establishment of a just and lasting world peace. Bahá'u'lláh declared that the world "is but one country and mankind its citizens" (www.bahai.org/article-1-3-2-19.html [cited 29 March 2001]). In order to realize this vision of one united world, Bahá'ís advocate new international social structures that transcend the authority of autonomous nations in order to ensure and maintain world peace and security. Bahá'ís would desire that these systems guarantee individual freedom and be based on democratic principles.
Christian Response: Christians agree that people should work to establish societies and peace among humanity. However, they would maintain that the true remedy for war is not a world government, but the transforming message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Total peace will come only with the coming of the Lord at the end of the age (Isa. 2:4; Matt. 5:9,38-48; 6:33; 26:52; Rom. 12:18-19; 13:1-7; 14:19; Heb. 12:14; Jas. 4:1-2).
8. Recognition that true religion is in harmony with reason and the pursuit of scientific knowledge When religion, shorn of its superstitions, traditions, and unintelligent dogmas, shows its conformity with science, then will there be a great unifying, cleansing force in the world which will sweep before it all wars, disagreements, discords and struggles-and then will mankind be united in the power of the Love of God (Àbdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 146, www.bahai.org/article-1-3-2-18.html[cited 29 March 2001]).
Christian Response: Christians agree that there is no conflict between biblical faith and objective scientific inquiry. However, they reject the dogmatic materialistic and naturalistic worldview that characterizes most of the modern scientific community. Science is a valid source of truth, but Christians likewise regard divine revelation as providing information that science cannot explain by its methods of inquiry (Rom. 1:20-23).
Witnessing to Bahá'ís: 1. Have a clear understanding of your faith and the Bible. Study the reasons why we believe the Bible and Christianity are true. 2. Try to establish a sincere personal relationship with Bahá'ís. Make it clear to them that you respect their right to believe as they will, but that you reserve the right to disagree. 3. Focus your discussion on the Person and work of Jesus Christ and explain why He is unique among the world's religious leaders.
Witnessing to Bahá'ís: 4. Share with your Bahá'í friend that mankind's basic problem is sin, not illiteracy or social injustice. 5. Explain to the Bahá'í the basics of the Christian gospel. Stress the need for confession of sin, repentance, and faith in Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. 6. Provide written materials for the Bahá'í to read that explain and defend Christianity, such as Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ or C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. 7. Pray and trust the Holy Spirit to lead you in witnessing to your Bahá'í friend.
References: Nelson’s Illustrated Guide to Religions, by James Beverley, 2009 Online: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%A1%27u%27ll%C3%A1h 4truth.net: http://www.4truth.net/fourtruthpbworld.aspx?pageid=8589952143 The Baha'i Faith: http://www.bahai.org/